Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thy page offendeth me

Way back here, in one of my first blog entries, I wrote about how nervewracking it is to be distracted in the middle of a good book by errors that should have been discovered before publication. Tonight I'll write about it again, because it drives me insane.

I'm not talking about an occasional typo; we've all done that, and it's hard to spot when you're proofreading your own writing. I'm talking about segments of text that make you go, "Huhhhh???" With a book, especially, you'd think at least a few people would have read it prior to publication, and you'd think that at least one of them might have stumbled over the offending passage.

I've read several books in Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware series and liked them all, but it seems as if all the editors were Gone when it came time to proofread his newest one. On page 57, Dr. Delaware and his homicide-cop buddy, Milo Sturgis, are interviewing a witness, one Shayndie Winograd. A good third of the page is devoted to Shayndie's son, Gershie, who is running around the apartment, and Dr. Delaware notes that "he looked to be about three."

Reading a little further, then turning the page, Shayndie excuses herself to "check on the babies." When she returns, Milo inquires about how many babies there are. "Twins," she said. "Seven months ago."

Milo was thinking like I'm thinking as I read this. "Mazel tov," said Milo. (Okay, I didn't think "Mazel tov," but I thought the next part.) "Three's a lot to handle." That's probably what you were thinking, too, but then Shayndie comes back with this:

"Shayndie Winograd smiled. 'Three would be easy. I've got six, five are school-age.'"

Okay, now, wait just a doggone minute! She has six kids and five are school aged? Even if Gershie Yoel, who "looked to be about three," was small for his age, what about the seven-month-old twins? The word "twins" means two babies as far as I know. Six kids minus two kids would be four possible school-aged children, right? Not five. Unless one of the twins is a genius, and the other is a...well, a seven-month-old baby.

I rest my case. I'm still reading, but don't think for a minute that this isn't stuck in the back of my mind, making me wonder what kind of a fool they think I am and what they're gonna try to pull on me next.


  1. i guess you are as confused as i am about your book and the mistakes.

  2. Funny you should bring this up...a book I'm reading said 'the injured pregnant mule deer had been put in his pen'. That's one might unusual mule deer! Carmon

  3. Oh, I know what you mean. If I come across an error-not a typo but a glaring error, I can't seem to enjoy the rest of the book. I'm on the lookout for more errors and still thinking about the one I found, wondering why nobody caught it before printing.

  4. Six sets of twins? Five are school age? Arrrrgh, I understand the frustration. It's a hurdle that we stumble over and spend the rest of the book wiping the dirt from our knees and looking back as we walk on to see if there is possibly another explanation.

  5. It feels so good to be in the company of others who share this particular pet peeve. Thank you for the affirmation!

  6. Haven't read any of Kellerman's books but is Delaware a *detective* by any chance? :) Sorry that would have been too silly.
    I'm afraid after a mistake like that the story would lose a lot of credibility, the proof readers should have picked it up. I wonder if Kellerman has a web site? Might be an idea to post a "heads up ~ to be counted", he might send you a signed copy of his latest book. :)

  7. Confused me!

    When that kind of thing has happened to me, I have been known to heave said volume in the trash!

    No excuse for it!

  8. I was reading about the life of Babe book called the Big Bam...well, the author hints that George Herman Ruth was the child of a black or this or that..
    I went to the census records and Big Bam...found in about 30 sec. in 1900 living with the parents that are George and Kate Ruth...just like the Babe always said. It made me not even want to
    read the's like trying to invent a story to sell a new with reading just 3 or
    4 chapters ...I will return it to
    the Library unread and unpraised.

  9. Hmm.....maybe it's just new math??? LOL!!

  10. velvet you must be sick or your computer is down no post for 2 days.

  11. The book was written by a man, and likely all the editors were men. The individual children were not important enough to be individuals to the author or editor. What does this reveal? The writer imagined a story, but placed little importance on these details. You read his rambling imaginings and find importance where he did not.


Your comments might be the very best thing about blogging. I love it when you care enough to share your thoughts here, so go ahead and say what's on your mind.